Why International Education Week Is Not Just For Internationals
If you saw any of the events for International Week in the Student Centre last week, you might have been thinking: is International Education Week for me?
What a lot of students don’t know is that International Education Week isn’t just meant for international or exchange students, or students who are interested in studying abroad. This week is for you, and me, and anyone, really. There are so many different cultures right here at McMaster and in the Hamilton community, and it’s worth celebrating.
Last week, I participated in a few International Education Week events, and as your resident Pop the Bubble foodie, naturally, all the events I attended had food involved. Trust me, it’s a great week for foodies.
Here were some of my personal highlights of the week:
1: Experiencing local restaurants with Hamilton: One Bite at a Time
I previously wrote a blog post about my first experience with the Hamilton: One Bite at a Time Program and why you should attend. Not a lot of people know about this program, and it’s one of the hidden gems out of all the Student Success Centre programs (don’t get me wrong, they offer some great resume critiques, but critiquing food is more my thing).
One Bite at a Time is a program run by International Student Services, where they take you to restaurants around Hamilton and you just have a fun night of great food and great company. The idea is that you can learn more about a culture by enjoying the food and learning from the restaurant owners and/or chefs. You pay $20 to get a typical traditional meal, including appetizers, main courses, desserts, and drinks, and you share this experience with other Mac students! Most of the people who come out to these events are international and exchange students (because usually domestic students don’t know about this program), so it’s a great way to try new food for a good price, and also meet new friends. I came out of the event learning more about different cultures and experiences. On Monday night, we went to Black Forest Inn, which is a German/Austrian restaurant in downtown Hamilton. I follow a lot of Hamilton food Instagram accounts, and I’ve seen and heard good things about this place, so I was really excited to go! The food was great, and the inside of the restaurant was awesome: it was like stepping into a time machine and travelling to Germany in the 1900s. There were also some German and Austrian international and exchange students there, who could vouch for the authenticity of the food. Overall, it was a great night and I left completely satisfied with a full stomach, some extra food to take home, and some new friends.
I went to Black Forest Inn this week with Hamilton One Bite at a Time. If you're a Mac student, I highly recommend checking out Hamilton One Bite at the Student Success Centre because it's a great way to try different ethnic restaurants around town and meet other students! Black Forest Inn is a really cute German/Austrian place on King St, and I would definitely recommend going there at least once, just because the waitresses dress up in cute outfits and the restaurant looks really cool! I had the pork schnitzel and apple strudel and both were pretty good. I only paid $20 because I went with Hamilton One Bite, but I think if you went there by yourself, you probably would spend only a little bit more. The schnitzel was so filling that didn't even finish half of it and I was already full (and I usually have a huge appetite!), so it's definitely worth the price.
2: Learning about the world with International Trivia & Treat
This was run by the WUSC club (World University Service of Canada) and was a drop-in event in the Student Centre. There were booths around the room for each continent with a featured snack. You could approach a booth, answer a trivia question related to that continent, and win a food prize. I came out learning fun facts about the world and more about what the WUSC club at McMaster does. I also learned that plantain chips are delicious!
3: Home cooked food at the Cultural Potluck
This event was by far my favourite event of the week. A lot of exchange and international students attended, bringing in a typical dish from their home country. It was such a cool experience because there were foods that I had never even heard of! It was also great to be able to try so many new and different foods all at once.
I brought dumplings, which are one of my favourite Asian foods, and I was so surprised to hear that some people didn’t know what dumplings were! I was able to share about my culture, and also learn more about others while enjoying delicious food.
The best part is that it cost me less than $10 to make those dumplings, but I definitely got more than $10 worth of food in me by the end of that day!
4: Learning new languages at the Language Cafe
This event was so fun! We got to learn two different languages all in one night.
I taught English with my friend during the first session. Why would anyone want to learn English if they’re already in a Canadian school, where English is always spoken? Well, most international students don’t know a lot of slang or idioms in English. Think back to your elementary school French classes, where you learned how to say “hi” “how are you” and maybe even how to write short papers in French. I bet if your French experience ended there and you went to France, you would be confused if someone on the street started speaking to you using slang and idioms. It was interesting to see how simple phrases and terms that we use in everyday conversations with friends can be so confusing and funny when taken literally by international students who never learned them. For example “How was your midterm?”, answering “I nailed it” would be pretty weird if it was taken literally!
After that, I learned Bengali, taught by an international student. I loved the student-to-student interactions, and how I was taught by another peer in a casual setting. I could ask them weird questions that you probably wouldn’t ask in a formal language class (like “what’s a slang term that you use with your friends all the time back home?”). It was fun to discuss how different our cultures were in Canada versus in another country, and it’s always fun to learn a new language!
All in all, my experience with International Education Week was amazing, and I wish I participated in previous years. And if my testimony isn’t enough to get you pumped for next year’s International Education Week, another bonus is that if you attend at least 3 events, you can get a stamp card, and enter it into a draw for a Campus Store gift card. This is something that’s offered year after year.
International Education Week was the perfect way to let go of stress during a busy time. I hope to see you there next year!